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Dan Alon, an Israeli fencer and 1972 Olympic athlete, never talked about his experience at the Munich Games and the Palestinian terrorist attack on the Israeli delegation. The reason was simple: No one ever asked him. At the time, he said, the media was focused on the victims and their families. “I couldn’t just go out on the street and shout, ‘I’m a survivor, I want to talk!’ ” says Alon, 63. “So I didn’t talk about it for 30 years.” 

Recently, Alon’s wife and daughter heard his story for the first time, along with more than 200 students at Yale University. Alon began speaking in depth about the attack and the death of his coach, Andre Spitzer, only after Steven Spielberg’s film “Munich” prompted a Chabad group in England to seek out a survivor’s story. The event at Yale, the first time Alon has spoken in the United States about his experiences, was sponsored by Chabad at Yale and the student group Yale Friends of Israel.

Now Alon is bringing his story to Boulder County. He will speak at the University of Colorado, Chemistry building 140.  November 6,  7:30pm Alon began fencing when he was 12 and dreamed of competing in the Olympics. In 1972, then aged 27, Alon marched into the Olympic stadium in Munich under the Israeli flag. “I was in heaven,” he said. “It was the most beautiful day of my life.” Six days later, on Sept. 5, 1972, the Palestinian terrorist organization Black September took 11 Israeli athletes and coaches hostage in their rooms at the Olympic Village. None of the hostages survived.

Alon appears briefly in the flashback footage in “Munich.” While he says he has no special insight into the Israeli retaliation for the Olympic attack — some critics have dismissed Spielberg’s rendition of the Israeli operation as Hollywood pageantry — Alon says the parts depicting the kidnapping in the Olympic village are quite accurate.

At 4:30 a.m. Alon was sleeping in his room in the second of five units that housed the Israeli squad. He and his teammate awoke to the sound of machine gun fire. The walls of the room shook. The eight terrorists already had captured the coaches in the first suite, inexplicably passed by Alon’s room and overpowered the weightlifters and wrestlers in the third unit.

To hear the rest of Alon’s story, be sure to attend. “We can never give in to terrorism,” Alon emphasized. The remnants of the Israeli team returned home on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, but it was four or five months before Alon could sleep soundly at night. “Despite his talent and many championships, Alon gave up fencing. He returned to the sport at the urging of his students only once, at age 46, when he again won the Israeli fencing championship.

He began a career in business and now is a manager-director at a plastics company. He met his wife, Adele — a native of Capetown, South Africa — while she was hitchhiking in Israel. They have three children, one of whom also fences. Adele Alon said her husband’s willingness to relive his Munich experience astonished her. “He knew exactly what he wanted to say,” she said. “Danny has a phenomenal memory. He remembers everything.”

Whether from the movie or from his story, Alon wants the world to know what happened in Munich. Now that he has begun talking, he says, the words come more easily each time.

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Click to read what the Wall Street Journal wrote about Dan